Contributed by J. Gibbs
I do not consider Newcastle to be my home town, but I have lived here for most of my adult life, and I feel that over the years it has lost many opportunities to capitalise on its unique history, the Castle and its interest as a market town.
From whichever route one approaches Newcastle the appeal is spoilt by horrendous buildings such as No 1 London Road, Brunswick Place, the multi-storey car park and uninspiring new builds on previously green space with the loss of many mature trees. These new structures are without charm or character, so unlike the older buildings, the Barracks, the old Post Office, erected with pride and skill.
I love the higgledy-piggledy skyline of the old buildings in the High Street or the Ironmarket. The towers and spires of our churches glimpsed above the trees, so beautiful at this time of year, and then, oh dear, there’s London Road again, visible from miles around.
Often though, one hesitates to look up at this vista in fear that taking one’s eyes off the ground will lead to you stepping into the mess of litter, food waste and vomit at one’s feet. People complain about animal and bird mess, but no matter where one walks, pavements or parks, or how hard the Council try to clean up, the environment is sullied by waste left by humans, who have no excuse.
The Lyme valley was a great ‘walk on the wild side’ until the aesthetic aspect was ruined by development, the Kingfisher was a pure joy to see as it swooped along the brook. Now the Kingfishers have gone and the brook and its banks are often used as a rubbish tip.
The sunken subway was alive with bird song and pink and white blossom until it was all cut back; the Queen’s Gardens can look lovely as long as no one is vomiting into the flower beds, but old parts of the cemetery are eerily awesome in the snow with sunlight filtering through the trees; quite breath taking.
This is, of course, only my view; however, we all need beauty, whether it is from nature, craftsmanship or works of art to lift our spirits, and our lives are poorer without it. We need to care about Newcastle. I do not believe it should have to be the Council’s responsibility to clean up our litter at enormous cost. We should not be depositing it in the first place. We seem only to attract the revellers; few shops of quality or specialist interest remain. Our neighbourhoods are suffering from developers turning properties into HMOs or student lets with scant regard for the misery, depression and disruption that this causes to long term residents. Is this one reason why we no longer seem to care for our communities?
I applaud the Civic Society and those on the Borough Council trying to save Newcastle’s history and heritage; it would be shameful to lose them, especially when one thinks of the pride and skill that went into their building.